Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 4, No. 3, 2005

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
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Robert Rotondo
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Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
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Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
Lydia Schrufer
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Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire

Montreal Jazz Festival 2005







Piano Keyboard


by Robert J. Lewis

Featured artist: MADELEINE PEYROUX
 © Robert Feldmeth

Forget about the Billie Holiday voice: you either like it for its BH or you don’t; unless you already know it as the incomparable vibe and veracity of Madeleine Peyroux . Either way, from the very first note, there can be no doubt that this achingly sweet gift has been informed by a life intensely lived and felt.

Since her first album Dreamland (1996) was released, it has been one of jazz’s not so little secrets that another remarkable cross-over diva -- à la Nora J. and Diana K. -- is in our midst, fusing the lexicon of jazz and distinctive vocal inflections onto both familiar music and music she makes familiar through an uncanny ability to induce even the most unsuspecting lyrics to betray their unsuspected depths.

She began busking on the streets of Paris at the age of 15. By 22, she released Dreamland, a solid bluesy affair reflecting her early years in Georgia. Under the sway of starry nights and cities of light, and a timetable improvised to accommodate her artistic vision, we had to wait eight long years for her second album, Careless Love (2004), where you won’t find even a trace element of the title in the ‘love’ and ‘care’ she brings to imaginative interpretations of Bessie Smith, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.

The Peyroux voice is a rare and precious instrument every lyric dreams of being held by. On a dime, it can unexpectedly dive and disappear into some nameless hurt, only to rise and sputter into thin air and silence, or float off into some inexplicable happiness. But despite an emotional range that oscillates between the unbearable and the bird-chirpy side of life, Peyroux never upstages the song – so it is always the latter that impels itself into our playlists -- which isn’t to say that a voice that makes schizophrenia sound easy isn’t going to grab our attention.

In the beautifully impossible "This is Heaven To Me," Peyroux coaxes word and music to the threshold of unstable truth, where note by note she leads us out of some unimaginable bottom, and through the power of her art makes the song’s wonderful but easy-to-miss modulations the stuff of the transcendental. Through Peyroux we learn that music, at its essence, is a cathartic medium, made to outlast even the darkest of nights.

Madeleine Peyroux already belongs to that elite class of singers who immediately own the songs they sing. How far can she go? How high is the moon?

You can catch Madeleine at the Montreal Jazz Festival July 3rd and 4th.


Listen to her sing THIS IS HEAVEN TO ME



John Coltrane
Miles Davis
Thelonius Monk
Charlie Mingus
Oscar Peterson
Charlie Parker
Dizzy Gillespie
Wes Montgomery
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